A Fork in the Road

A Fork in the Road

6562501-md_2.jpgAfter the innocent little cartoon that I posted the other day here, I received a few remarks disagreeing with it. I know I have discussed this over and over again. Here I go again. The other night I met with some people who question why I don't have a mission statement or a vision statement or a set of goals for the church. The premise is: once we know who we want to be, then we can work towards being that. If you aim at nothing, that's what you're going to hit! I know this is the most popular and widely assumed and accepted wisdom, but I reject it completely. For a few reasons:
  1. In my own life, I've discovered that setting a vision for myself of who I want to be reveals a deep repugnance of who I am and coats it with ideals. It is an ancient remedy for denying and escaping from suffering and is a denial of reality.
  2. As a part of the church for years, I have seen how over and over again the vision, mission or goals of a community stifle the life of individuals and violently molds the community into the shape someone or some others have for it.
  3. As a pastor, I have come to the conclusion that people and communities are healthier and even prosper when some ideal of who or what they should be is not applied to them.
I told my friends the other night that we come to a fork in the road: the one to the left is where we make ourselves or others conform to a vision. This may lead to the appearance of success, but I think it is often superficial and very often the culture of violence. The one to the right is where there is no vision or ideal imposed upon ourselves or others. In my experience this leads to extraordinary freedom and authenticity. In my experience, this leads to incredible fruitfulness. Some friends say to me, "Well, then THAT'S your vision!" No, as lofty and beautiful and tempting as this sounds, it is not, because even to apply this vision to people locks them in, and to be locked in to anything is bondage and slavery of some sort. Again, I emphasize, this is in my experience and observation. You may disagree. Of course, you are free to. The fine art photo is the creation of my friend Howard Nowlan.

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